Trouble So Hard by Meredith Nnoka

by Leslie Anne Mcilroy

When I say that he ran down that dirt road harder than a lightning bolt beats on an oak tree,
I mean his legs were doing work. I mean that his feet blistered and bled hard, that his head
was beading sweat. I mean we’re all trying to get out of these blues alive before something
catches up.

When I say the police were running after him, I mean they just wanted to see a black man
until his legs gave out. I mean they had nothing on him. I mean that’s the way things work:
we’re all doomed with the same blues, but I mean some of us just know better.

When I say he ran faster than the police could muster, I mean he was shedding
that slowed him down. I mean he was running for his life. I mean that he wanted it more
than they did.

When I say he was running for his family, I mean he had more to lose. I mean that everything
weighed on him hot and heavy. I mean that he didn’t know where he was running to, only
that he had to run. I mean he was running to me.

When I say the police caught up with him, I mean everyone gets wise one day. I mean
sometimes luck runs out. I mean they gunned him down like a dog.

Photo of Meredith Nnoka by Alex Neff

Photo of Meredith Nnoka by Alex Neff

Meredith Nnoka M is a Smith College graduate with a degree in Africana Studies and English. Originally from outside of Washington, DC, she spent the last year teaching English in France and will begin graduate studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the fall. Her poems have been featured in Mandala Journal and Riding Light and her first chapbook will be available later this year.